In today’s society, our mental health and feelings are prioritized more than ever. People have become more understanding, accepting, and willing to open up. However, data supports the notion that there is a major rise of depression seen within the last ten years. People are more susceptible to suicide, and teenage depression rates have seen an eighteen percent increase. But what are the reasons for this surge? Can we as a society recognize and consequence a change?
Among the reasons for increased depression rates, the use of social media is second to none. Teenagers are the first generation to live a life within a social bubble, and as social media has taken the world by storm, the way people communicate and function has changed drastically. People have stopped meeting for social gatherings, and sitting on your bed while scrolling aimlessly has become far more appealing. Scrolling from video to video, people's emotions fluctuate from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, and a strong sense of loneliness begins to form. In an article written by The Atlantic, author Derick Thomspon describes social media as ‘alcohol’, “a mildly addictive substance that can enhance social situations but can also lead to dependency and depression among a minority of users.” When people indulge themselves in their raiving addiction, their sense of enjoyment outweighs that small feeling of guilt that may be present. In a book titled Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?, Jean Twenge reveals how the rise in depression seen within teens correlates directly to when the first iPhone was released, around 2012.
As well as social media, experts have linked teenage depression to modern day parental styles. As researcher Kate Julian from The Atlantic puts it, a new phenomenon of pushing your kid to the top has caused what is known as the ‘rug rat race.’ Anxious parents seeking the best future for their child have put their children through enormous amounts of stress, eyeing the greatest name schools and high income jobs. An eye opening study run within the USA conducted that in the past forty years the number of adults putting their kids through tutoring and coaching has doubled. As this is beneficiary in some light, expert Valerie Ramey merely describes it as a pressure system “to get ready for college.” With all of the kids' focus being drawn to their future, Julian also points out additional downsides of parenting today. Teenagers have become slow to grow up and have an absence of independence in their lives. Activities such as getting your driver's license, dating, going to the movies, etc, pastimes that were once popular, have become less frequent and appealing to today's generation. As well as that, motivation to do chores and face problems independently have adapted. As Julian puts it, accommodation to uncomfort is far more seen in today's society. When faced with a problem, parents hide and sway their kid away from it, and while some may call it helpful, others will call it harmful. Looking more closely at modern day parents, however, while teenage depression is certainly a concern and worry, recent surveys conducted reveal that one in every six adults in the USA have reported signs of depression. In a report done by Gallup, the depression rates in adults have seen more than a seven percent increase since 2015, reaching record levels. In an article by CNN, author Deidre McPhillips links this recent rise to COVID-19, stating how the world took a ‘mental hit.’ Isolation in a time of struggle clearly impacted more than ever before. People lost their jobs, lost family, and without a place of safety, depression was inevitable.
When faced with these tough times, it is important to group together to solve these problems. The world was hit with event after event as of recently, and changes around the world have not proved beneficial to all. So how can we solve this? What can we do to improve the morale of our society? Researchers recommended teenagers to simply be more involved, to join team sports, clubs, or even get a job. Finding life outside of the social net of Instagram, Tiktok, etc, people can reconnect with real life, and find a more calming sense of peace. Answering this question as a whole society, however, the answer lies within kindness and unity. We never know what somebody can be going through, whether they’re fifteen or fourty, and spreading kindness as a society will contribute to the greater good. By forming unity, the problems of the will world suddenly seem less daunting and impossible. Depression will always exist, but how we limit its effects lies in unity and kindness.